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article imageMan jailed for selling endangered species

By Bob Ewing     May 12, 2009 in Crime
An Ontario man who used the Internet to arrange cross-border meetings to sell at-risk and endangered species has been sentenced to jail time.
Emanuele Tesoro of Waterdown, Ont., and two other Ontario men were charged for their alleged roles in a black-market operation that saw protected species sold across the Canada-U.S. border.
A two-year, multi-jurisdiction investigation called Operation Shellshock, in which officials went undercover, trolled websites and chat rooms, and set up sting operations to stop the trafficking of at-risk species was responsible for the arrests.
Tesoro was arrested on Oct. 15, 2008, in New York state when investigators say he allegedly crossed the border twice with a total of 35 eastern massasauga rattlesnakes and one spotted turtle, which had been stuffed inside a series of hidden compartments within his van.
The eastern massasauga rattlesnake is listed as a threatened species in Ontario and the spotted turtle is considered endangered.
Tesero's 90-day sentence – in addition to two years of probation and a $4,000 fine, may be seen by some as a slap on the wrist. Gary Colgan, a director with Environment Canada's wildlife enforcement division feels differently..
"A few years ago for crimes like this the fine was $50. ... We're educating and working with the judiciary to increase the magnitude of the fines," he said.
"Three months in jail and a $4,000 penalty for these particular Canadian (crimes) is significant."
More than 2,400 animals were documented in illegal sales or poaching during the joint operation co-ordinated by Ontario's Natural Resources Ministry, Environment Canada and American agencies and over two dozen people were charged.
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